One of the greatest challenges for any live band is finding and booking regular paying gigs. It can take more time to get out and book your own gigs than it takes to practice and get your band in shape to play gigs. That’s why live bands secure the services of booking agents to help find and schedule gigs.
The first thing you need to do is find a booking agent that can get your band booked into the places you want to play. The best way to do this is to visit a few clubs and try to speak to someone about who is booking bands for that club. Ask them if they use a specific booking agent to book bands for their club. You can usually get contact numbers for local booking agents this way.
Another way to find good booking agents is to talk to other bands that play in the clubs you’re interested in. Ask them what booking agent they’re using and you should be able to get some good contacts that way as well. You can also check the Entertainment section in the Yellow Pages of your local phonebook.
After you have some numbers, start calling the booking agents. Remember to act professionally and have all your contact information handy when you’re speaking to the booking agent. Be sure you have some Demo CD’s of your band to give to the booking agent. Even better, direct them to your website which should have music demos, pictures and even live videos of your band performing.
An agent that is interested in booking your band will usually get back to you right away after your initial contact. Make sure you have a calender handy and that you know in advance what dates your band is available to play. You don’t want to have to tell the booking agent “I’ll call you back after I check with the guys” when they offer you gig dates.
A single booking agent usually books for several different places. At first, they’ll most likely schedule you in some of their smaller venues to make sure your band can handle the gigs they book. After you prove yourself at a few smaller gigs the agent will begin to book you at larger and more prestigious gigs. It’s a process that will pay off big time in the end if you find a good booking agent.
There are a couple more things to remember when working with a booking agent. Booking agents will usually take a percentage of your earnings as payment for booking the gig for you. This is how they get paid for doing all the legwork it takes to secure gigs for your band. Most agents charge between 10%-15% of what your band will be paid for the gig.
Agents will usually have you sign a contract specifying where you’ll be playing, the dates you’ll be playing, how much you will be paid and how much you will pay the booking agent. This is part of the business and it’s something you will have to do to work with a booking agent. Just make sure you read the contract and don’t sign anything binding beyond that single gig. You don’t want to sign a contract that gives that particular booking agent exclusive rights to your band in perpetuity.
There is one major matter of etiquette when working with a booking agent. I’ve heard bands complain that an agent booked them into a club but the band scheduled return dates on their own so they didn’t feel it necessary to pay the agent for those return dates. This is unethical and will get you blacklisted among the local booking agents. Any gig at that club which comes as a direct result of the original gig the booking agent booked for you is a gig that you should pay your agent a booking fee for.
Finally, make sure the agent knows that you are not exclusively tied to one individual booking agent. You want to be sure that if you book your own gigs without the agents help that there will be no fees paid to the booking agent. This will also allow you to use multiple booking agents for an even wider selection of gigs.
Booking agents are a very necessary part of finding gigs for your live band. Generally, they make your life much easier and can even become a good friend of the band. Make sure you treat them fairly and you will get better gigs from them as well.